According to a report by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the 49ers are listening to trade offers for running back Jeff Wilson Jr. While Wilson currently leads the Niners in nearly every rushing category, he will likely soon fall to third on the team’s depth chart as recent acquisition Christian McCaffrey becomes more integrated into the offense and Elijah Mitchell nears a return from his MCL injury.
The #49ers have received calls on RB Jeff Wilson and are willing to listen to potential offers, per sources. Wilson is playing well – ranking 11th in rushing with 454 yards – but the arrival of Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell's close return has crowded the backfield.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) October 28, 2022
The 49ers' offense has struggled to put points on the board this season, but Wilson has posted some impressive numbers. In seven games (five starts), Wilson has recorded 454 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 88 carries (5.2 yards per attempt). He has also hauled in eight receptions for 70 receiving yards. In fact, Wilson currently ranks 11th in the NFL in rushing yards and is on pace for a 1,100+ yard season. Of course, a growing role for McCaffrey and the return of Mitchell make the chances of him eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark in San Francisco quite small.
Trading Wilson would not create any significant salary cap savings for the 49ers. However, he is set to be a free agent after this season. With both Mitchell and McCaffrey under contract through 2024, Wilson will likely receive more lucrative offers from other teams this offseason. While the 49ers could recoup a compensatory pick for Wilson if he leaves in free agency, they would not receive that selection until the 2024 draft. If he is not going to be a part of the team’s offense this season, it could make sense to recoup a pick for 2023.
With that said, it’s hard to imagine the 49ers receiving an overwhelming offer for Wilson. Far from an elite back, his closest recent trade comps are James Robinson, Kenyan Drake, and Jordan Howard. All three netted the teams that traded them a sixth-round pick with the potential to become a fifth-rounder, far from an overwhelming return.
Wilson has been more productive this season than any of those backs were in the season they were traded. So it seems reasonable to speculate the 49ers could probably recoup an unconditional fifth-rounder for Wilson, but is that worth depleting their running back depth when both McCaffrey and Mitchell have struggled to stay healthy?
Keep an on the Ravens if the 49ers do part with Wilson. Baltimore just placed J.K. Dobbins on the IR and has all of their picks in the first six rounds of the 2022 draft, including a pair of fifth-rounders. A deal where the Niners trade Wilson and a seventh-round pick to the Ravens for a fourth-rounder or a package of a fifth and a sixth would be hard to pass up.
What do you think about the 49ers shopping Jeff Wilson Jr? Would you be willing to bet on part with the Niners leading rusher before the trade deadline? If so, what would be the least you would accept in return? Let us know in the comments below.